Tag Archives: Management

How to keep your business plan fresh

(NC)—If your business plan has been collecting dust since you launched, it’s likely time to refresh. Updating your business plan on a regular basis is critical for any business to stay relevant and be successful in the future.

Elements of a business plan change in as little as a year—for example, sales targets, competitors and cash flow. A plan should be a continually evolving roadmap to where your want your business to be in the coming months and years.

Here are some common business-planning pitfalls.

Doing It Alonedevelop a business plan

It’s hard to be impartial when it comes to your own business. So involve employees, experts and other small business owners who may have an interest in the process. They can help you generate new ideas for the future.

Too Much Information

Keep it short and simple. Present your business ideas clearly and stick to the facts: incorporate market studies, benchmark reports and sales projections. Let these facts persuade your investors or lenders that your business will make a profit.

The Wrong Details for the Wrong Audience

You don’t want too much information, but you need to include the numbers and facts that back up your ideas.

If you want lenders or investors to take your business plan seriously, make sure the format is appropriate for your audience and look into different templates and sample business plans. Canada Business Ontario has free templates and sample business plans for a variety of industries and a business planning video to help get you started. They also offer secondary market research and demographic information to get you started. Call the Business Info Line at 1-888-745-8888 or visit www.canadabusiness.ca.

Filing It Away

A business plan can give you an objective picture of the viability of new projects. But it can only do this if you keep it up to date and refer to it regularly. Create a semi-annual or annual schedule to keep it fresh and current.

Continuous business planning helps identify opportunities, competition and changing industry trends. Your business plan will not only sell your idea to potential investors or lenders, it will also keep your business goals on track.

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Improve Your Life with Time Management

Time management is fundamentally about focus. The Pareto Principle states, 80% of effort not managed or focused generates 20% of the desired output. On the other hand, 80% of desired output can be generated by 20% of effective effort. You see how much is lost or gained with well-managed time.

Time management involves scheduling appointments, goal settings, planning, to do lists and prioritizing; core skills that need to be understood to develop efficient personal productivity. These basic skills should be personalized to fit your work style. However, there is more to time management than these basics: decision making, emotional intelligence and critical thinking are also important to personal development.

Time management involves everything you do. No matter how big or small, everything counts. It’s not just to get your tasks completed on schedule. Time management should lead to a balanced life.

Time management is about getting results, not about being busy.

Time management should improve six aspects of life: physical, intellectual, social, career, emotional and spiritual.

  1. The physical aspect involves having a healthy body, less stress and fatigue.
  2. The intellectual aspect involves learning and other mental growth activities.
  3. The social aspect involves developing personal or intimate relations and being an active contributor to society.
  4. The career aspect involves school and work.
  5. The emotional aspect involves appropriate feelings and desires and manifesting them.
  6. The spiritual aspect involves a personal quest for meaning.

Having a to do list for each of these key areas is not practical, but knowing which areas of your life  are not getting enough attention is part of time management. Each aspect is part the whole. If you ignore one then you are ignoring an important part of yourself.

Personal time management is not a daunting task. It is a reasonable approach in solving problems. These steps should be a regular part of your life:

  • Set goals and review them regularly. Write them down and keep the list where you can check it easily
  • Determine what tasks are necessary by asking yourself if they are helping you achieve your goals or maintain your balanced lifestyle.
  • Use your peak time to best advantage. Know your natural energy cycle. Complete difficult tasks you have the most energy.
  • Learn to say ‘No’.
  • Reward yourself for completions.
  • Get cooperation from people who benefit from your time management efforts.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Attend to necessary things immediately.
  • Have a positive attitude and set yourself up for success.
  • Set realistic goals and break them down into manageable steps
  • Track your activities. This will help you get things in their proper perspective.

Once you integrate time management practices into your life, you increase options that provide a spectrum of solutions to personal growth. It creates more doors that opportunity can knock on.

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Time-Saving Tools for Busy Lives

Amazing, isn’t it? Every day, you’re given 24 hours. Some days, you feel like you’ve lived every hour. Other days, the time seems to slip through your fingers like grains of sand.

Even though time can’t be pinned down, we live in a society that tries to do just that. Schedules, timetables and deadlines are the framework of modern life. But being organized doesn’t necessarily mean living by a lot of rigid rules. It means making choices—your choices—about what’s important to you and then arranging your time and space to focus on those choices.

Take a moment to reflect on the pace of your life. Does it feel like you are rushing from task to task and worrying about how you will ever get everything done? When you start to feel overwhelmed, it’s time to pick up your organizational tools and create some time and space in your own life. Here are five easy tools to get you started.

Make it easy for employers to see what you can do for them by going a couple of steps further:

The daily planner

Many busy people find that they cannot get along without the help of their daily planner. A useful daily planner:

  • is both a calendar and a notebook
  • should be small enough to carry with you
  • should be big enough to hold your to-do list, appointments and plans
  • has a section for phone numbers and addresses
  • doesn’t have to be expensive—you can find one for around $10.

The daily planner helps prevent the urge to leave notes all over the place and keeps all your vital information together. By glancing at your daily planner each evening, you can plan the following day. You could also write out your goals in your daily planner at the beginning of each month to help you stay in touch with what’s most important to you.

The to-do list

Time management experts say that list-making is one of the most useful kinds of tools because it helps you visualize your plans. Once you have made your list, try to sort the tasks according to how important each one is. You can assign ratings or underline the most important items on your list. If you manage to get only those things done, you have still made the best use of the time available to you.

The done list

Reward yourself for all your hard work. At the end of each day, take a moment to write out or just think about your “done” list. Include all of the items on your to-do list that you’ve completed as well as other important things you did. If you’re a worrier, your done list can show you how much you have actually accomplished.

A place for everything

This well-known saying has been around a long time because it’s true: A place for everything and everything in its place. When you think of all the time spent frantically hunting for your keys or your wallet or the bill that needs to be paid today, it really makes sense to organize your living space. This may take some effort at first, but putting things in their proper place can become a habit before you know it. Try telling yourself: don’t put it down—put it away. This simple rule works wonders.

Escape from the phone and TV

This may be the hardest thing to do, but it can make a big difference in the time you have to spend on more important things. You can start by keeping track of the time you spend in one week in front of the television—the number of hours may surprise you. When you think of how much time in a month or even a year is spent watching TV, you may decide it’s time to make some changes. You might decide to turn off the TV while you’re eating dinner. Or you may choose to make certain days of the week TV-free. The extra time can be spent with friends or on hobbies or maybe taking a course at a local college.

The same strategies can be used for deciding when to use the phone and when not to. You can choose to take calls when you have the time to talk. If you don’t have an answering machine, you can unplug your phone or turn down the ringer when you don’t want to take calls.

Making time, saving energy

Take some time to find out which time-saving tools are right for you. You can sometimes make very simple changes in your life and discover that you had much more time available than you thought. Then, you can effectively use the time you do have to accomplish what’s most important to you.

From ALIS

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6 Tips for Effective Participation in Meetings

Yesterday, I posted some tips for running effective meetings. What happens when you’re on the other side of the table? How can you ensure you are getting the most out of meetings you attend?

When you attend a meeting you should:

Attend only if needed. Some use meetings as a weapon in their office politics arsenal. They attended to be seen and heard whether they need to be there or not. If you’re not going to contribute to the discussion or if the outcomes do not affect you, don’t attend. Too many non-essential participants can extend the length of the meeting.

Get There On time. I refuse to start a meeting late for the sake of the person who wanders in five-minutes past start time; mostly to prove they are too busy and important to get to a meeting on time. It is discourteous to the chair and to those who make the effort to be on time.

Be prepared with your contribution. If you’ve given up attending meetings where your contribution is not needed, it stands to reason all the meetings you attend require participation. Prepare whatever information you anticipate needing. Go overboard. Bring twice as much data as you think you’ll need. Just don’t spew the whole works. If you have information to hand out, get it to participants a day or two before the meeting.

Pay attention. There will always be those at a meeting so focused on their opinion that they are not really listening to what the others are saying. Listen actively to the discussion. You don’t want to merely parrot or repeat another participant’s contribution.

Get involved in the discussion. Review the agenda and clarify your thoughts prior to the meeting. Make some notes. Being prepared will make it more likely that you will have some energy behind your points of view and, therefore, be more likely to express them.

Be courteous. You’re not likely to agree with everything said at a meeting. Never interrupt anyone – even if you disagree strongly. Note what has been said and return to it later with the chair’s permission. The point of most meetings is to reach agreements. If the participants are combative, the meetings will drag on. Look for ways to build consensus.

If you are attending a meeting, ensure that you respect the time of other attendees by being well prepared, attentive, concise and respectful..

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4 Tips for Running Effective Meetings

Staff Meeting
Image via Wikipedia

Meetings can be effective ways of sharing information or reaching a decision. However, ineffectively run,  they can swallow up your time without giving much benefit. Just as jobs have a cost, meetings have a cost; not only for you but for all who attend. After any meeting ask yourself,  “was my contribution worth my investment?”

Here are some tips for running meetings in the most effective way possible:

1. Hold meetings when trigger events occur

Many regular meetings are little more than a case of doing something because it’s the “correct” way to do things or it’s always been done that way. The management team feels it is a “good thing” to communicate,  but are unclear what they would like to communicate. Time is alloted for discussion and discussion expands to fill the time.

It is more effective to hold meetings when specific events show them to be necessary. For example, a deliverable is delayed by two weeks. How does this effect the overall timing of the project and what steps can be taken to keep the whole thing on track.

By scheduling meetings to occur on trigger events, you ensure time is invested in the solution of a problem, only when the problem occurs.

2. Use the Agenda Effectively

The agenda is effectively the to-do list for the meeting. It  shows the aim and discussion points  in priority order.

Using an agenda focuses the meeting, and provides a guide for keeping discussion on-track. Circulating the agenda sufficiently in advance, allows people to prepare for the meeting so it isn’t held up for lack of information.

3. Setting the time of the meeting

You can schedule the meeting to take advantage of the attendees:

  • Where people tend to waffle excessively, you can schedule the meeting just before lunch or going home, giving participants an incentive to keep things brief.
  • Where people are time conscious, write the cost per minute of the meeting on a flip chart can have a focusing effect.
  • Always start meetings on time. When meetings start late, you are in effect penalizing all those who arrived on time. Start without the late-comers.
  • If you’re have a problem with people consistently showing up late, start a meeting at an unusual time, say19 minutes past the hour. This can improve punctuality.

4. Other Useful Techniques

  • Invite the minimum number of attendees needed to a meeting. The more people in attendance, the more discussion there will be. Inviting people who are not needed wastes their time.
  • Make sure that decisions made at a previous meeting have been acted on. This ensures that the meeting will not just be seen as a ‘talking-shop’.
  • At the end of the meeting, prepare minutes summarizing the points discussed and defining action steps on the decisions. This ensures everyone understands what has been decided and who will do what.

Meetings can be effective methods for reaching decisions. They can also be huge time wasters. When you invest time in a meeting, you should expect a sufficiently large pay-back to justify the investment.

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How to Set Goals

With all the preparing and qualifying leading up to London summer Olympics, you hear a lot about the goals athletes are expecting to meet during the games. They know the only way they are going to reach the medal podium is by having goals to work towards.

Do you know anyone who is successful? Have you spent time talking with them about their success? Chances are, they credit setting goals as a major step in their success, and continues to be important as they look for new ways to challenge themselves.

Setting goals is not just for champion athletes or wealthy people. Everyone needs goals to give them direction. It’s not complicated. However, it can be challenging. The process of goal setting can be of value to you in building drive and commitment, important factors in achieving success.

Guidelines for setting goals

  1. Goals should should stretch you, yet be realistic and attainable. Challenging but realistic goals produce better results.
  2. Write Goals down and post them where you can see them daily. Stick them on your computer or your bedroom mirror, anywhere you spend a lot of time.
  3. Write your goals as positive statements that focus on successful outcomes.
  4. Write an action plan for accomplishing your goals. This is where short-term goals come in. Each short-term goal achieved, keeps you motivated and moving forward.
  5. Set a time frame: specific but reasonable.
  6. Celebrate your accomplishments. Once you have reached a short-term goal celebrate it; give yourself a reward.
  7. Revise as necessary. Sometimes things happen that you cannot control, you must not let that deter you from accomplishing your goals, revise and rewrite.
  8. Prioritize you goals. List your goals in order of importance to you.

Now, get out there, set some goals and go for “gold”.

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